Might it be better to say that Star Trek is the best Star Trek that has
ever been made, and that Babylon 5 is the best Babylon 5 that has ever been
Some level of competitiveness is good, in the sense that it should
promote us and the ST folks to work harder to out-do one another; in that
fashion, the viewers win every time. At the same time, remember that a lot of
the hard-core ST fans *really* dumped on B5 bigtime when it first came out,
and may be perhaps a bit annoyed at having the tables switched around and for
the first time being asked hard questions (whcich, or which, if answered, will
make both shows continue to improve).
The thing to remember is that this marks the *first time* since the
original Star Trek that there has been an American series set in our future,
with humans as spacefaring entities building colonies and forming relations
with other races. (Space Rangers came after, and is now gone in any event,
and Battlestar was about others coming here in our present.) So on that
level, we're going toe to toe, but with the goal, one hopes, of wedging the
door open enough for MORE shows to come down the pike of this sort. Can you
*imagine* the Lensman books, or the Foundation books, done for television?
That will NOT happen untiland unless it can be shown that just one other such
spacefaring futuristic show can be done successfully for television.
My criterion has always been, what does the show bring to the table that
is new? The original ST brought transporters, phasers, starships,
communicators, medical scanners, air-injectors and warp speed into common
parlance; they weren't throwaways, they were important parts of this new
Babylon 5 has introduced O'Neil stations, gravity through rotation, jump
gates, non-aerodynamic Starfuries, use of the full x-y-z axis in showing
movement, non-atmospheric combat (flying backwards and firing forwards),
alternate atmosphere sectors, and other stuff. I think that this will in time
become common parlance and part of the culture, assuming we stay on the air
(What new elements -- not one-episode throwaways, but new, regular
technologies like transporters -- TNG and DS9 have developed, I don't know,
only because I don't tend to watch. So I'll leave that to others.)
Which is all a long and roundabout way of saying that I think the whole
question of "better" is less the issue than what the series leaves in its
wake; does it contribute, does it ennoble, does it illuminate, does it
educate? And that generally can't *really* be known until well after the
fact. The original ST was considered a failure when it was cancelled; there
was little evidence of it affecting society, the ratings were low...it was
only with the passage of time that it took on a new life, and became part of
the popular culture.
Now if only I can lean on Bruce to stop saying the new Enterprise looks
like a park fountain....